- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

A small bipartisan group of House lawmakers yesterday introduced a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "the union between a man and a woman" and preventing the courts from changing it.
The measure stipulates that marriage in the United States "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman." It also says that "neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage, the organization behind the measure, said it "simply protects the legal status quo from being changed by the courts." He said homosexual and lesbian groups want to do an "end run around public opinion and the democratic process" to destroy the status of marriage through the courts.
"Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society," Mr. Daniels said. "We just want to put this issue back in the hands of the American people and let the people decide. Not the courts, the people."
He said that under the proposal states would still be able to decide "everything else" associated with marriage, including health benefits and property.
But the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the proposal, saying it would invalidate all state and local domestic partnership laws, including those in at least eight states and in more than 100 counties, cities and towns across the country.
"With only a few exceptions, most of the anti-gay attacks in Congress are the legal equivalent of sticks and stones," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU legislative counsel. "This amendment is the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb. It will wipe out every single law protecting gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples."
Constitutional amendments must win two-third majorities of both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures in order to become law.
The measure was sponsored by Rep. Ronnie Shows, Mississippi Democrat. The other House members who signed on are Rep. David Phelps, Illinois Democrat; Ralph M. Hall, Texas Democrat; Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican; Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Virginia Republican; and Rep. Christopher B. Cannon, Utah Republican.
Mr. Daniels said his group is working with senators on the issue as well.
"We need to let our children know that marriage matters, and that families matter," said Mr. Daniels. "People who live outside the boundaries of traditional marriage should not be able to redefine what marriage means to everyone else."
Mr. Daniels added that "the best legal minds in the nation say the courts are going to destroy the legal status of marriage in America in seven to eight years unless we pass this amendment."

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